Community matters to WPL
WPL is owned by locals and has been a part of the design industry in Virginia Beach for 53 years. We are entrenched in the Virginia Beach community as WPL owners and many staff members have lived here their entire lives. It is a part of our culture that WPL team members are involved in their civic or home owners associations. This is the breeding ground for long term civic involvement. WPL has over the years engaged in civic associations and community groups for many different causes. WPL principals serve the City of Virginia Beach on multiple City Council appointed boards and commissions bringing their expertise pro-bono to the tasks at hand. We have participated in many design Charrettes from Waterman’s Walk on Shore Drive, to the Marina District along Winston Salem Avenue at the South End.
WPL’s Billy Almond has served the Resort Committee for 15 years serving on the Resort Advisory Commission. Additionally Billy serves on the Green Ribbon Committee and most recently completed extensive work on the Cavalier Task Force which was successful in planning the restoration of the Cavalier on the Hill. Billy has served the North Virginia Beach Civic League since 1994 and was the league’s president from 1998 – 2000. During his presidency Billy established the North Virginia Beach Civic League’s Zoning Review Committee. For 15 tireless years this committee has met several hundred times to review variance cases before the Board of Zoning Appeals. Working in concert with North End architects, builders and planners, Billy has established a planning concepts for future residential development at the North End. WPL’s Billy Almond also serves the city planning department as chair of the Old Beach Design Review. OBDR reviews architectural designs and site plans for redevelopment work within the Old Beach Neighborhood and its design overlay.
WPL Community Projects
Kellam High School, Virginia Beach City Public Schools, Virginia Beach, VA
During the course of the design for the new 105 million dollar Kellam High School replacement project, Virginia Beach City Public Schools and the design team came together to develop a community based design Charette process that was comprised of two groups of stakeholders. One group was the “building design group” and the other was the “site design group”. The two groups met on alternate Wednesdays for over two months during an intensive design Charette process.
The stakeholder groups were comprised of city council and planning commissioners, community leaders, planning department staff, Kellam High School educators and administrative staff, property owners within the Kellam High School district, adjacent property owners to the Kellam HS site, representatives from environmental groups associated with the Back Bay Watershed, and student representatives. The design team began each Charette with a complete presentation on educational building design and site planning so the participants would have a clear understanding of the process and the intent. In both the building and site design groups participants worked together on analysis, conceptual design, and planning. The groups were segregated into smaller work groups each with facilitators from the design team who guided the process. Each group was carried through the design process and developed building plan ideas and conceptual site plans. Each table presented their ideas to the larger group. The final phase of the process was to vote on the best options or solutions to the tasks at hand. From this process came the best ideas from each group that ultimately was turned over to the design team as a basis to begin the conceptual design phase of the project. This process truly resulted in a “community based design solution” for both the Kellam High School building as well as the site.
JT’s Grommet Island Beach Park and Playground
With a massive year-long campaign and an outpouring of community support, a 15,000 square foot beach park and playground came to fruition at the prominent 1st Street Virginia Beach boardwalk terminus. Providing accessibility beyond the boardwalk and into the sand, the playground creates an opportunity disabled persons rarely experienced prior to the park’s construction.
Following a year of design work, upon construction completion, the park was donated to the city of Virginia Beach along with an endowment for upkeep and maintenance. Since it’s dedication, disabled and able-bodied, young and old alike, the entire community of Virginia Beach has embraced JT’s Grommet Island and express pride in ownership of the first beach park and playground of its kind created for people with disabilities.
Making people aware of the fight against debilitating diseases such as ALS or the abilities of the otherwise disabled people is one main mission of this park. Consequently, it is why hundreds of volunteers have contributed money, man hours, and materials in raising this park from the ground up. To commemorate such contributors, the design team incorporated a sponsor wall and signage for the park with names of families, corporations, and individuals printed on shapes of waves, surf boards, and banner posts adorning the park. The design team is just as varied. Teams of civil and structural engineers, architects, contractors, and manufacturers were orchestrated by the landscape architect for the design of this park.
Thurston Creek Watershed – Virginia Beach, VA
The students of Kemps Landing Magnet School wanted to transform a three-acre vacant and spoiled waterfront lot behind their school into a beautiful park for Pembroke Elementary, Kemps Landing, and their community. Billy Almond along with WPL provided guidance and taught them to walk in the shoes of a landscape architect so that they could achieve their dreams. The students devoted a quarter of their school year to learning the physical, biological, and cultural features of the site and designing 17 different master plans for their project. Mr. Almond and WPL merged the best of each plan into an illustrative comprehensive plan and sketches which the student volunteers are using to help raise funds.